I don't want to go, but I should. Help me find a dentist and help me get over my fear.
October 16, 2009 7:39 AM Subscribe
I'm scared of going to the dentist. How do I find one that will understand and how do I prepare myself for going to my first appointment in years?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Hi. I'm a 20-something woman who is coming to terms with the fact that I need to go to the dentist. It's been several years. I take very good care of my teeth, but I recognize that some problems may develop and that it would be better to prevent rather than fix. The problem is that I'm really scared.
My experience with dentists is not very good. I had a terrible experience with a dentist who lost his temper with me on my first visit as a 4 year old. He yelled at me and made me cry. After that, I went to a children's dentist and they also yelled at me, routinely left me alone in the chair for up to an hour at a time and did not seem to care about my comfort or pain levels. It seems every dentist I've had at some point ridiculed or yelled at me or caused me undue pain or neglect when it could have been prevented. I do not consider myself to be a coward and have been though surgery, routine doctor visits and many other procedures without any problems at all. It is just my extreme negative interactions with dentists that have caused me to stay away all these years.
So how do I find someone who cares? What is reasonable to ask about when you call to make an appointment? I don't feel I can outright ask, "Is Dr. Dentist a patient man/woman who will not yell at or mock me?" I live in a small town and I don't think there is sedation dentistry here. I do not know many people here to ask for recommendations. Is it reasonable to want to meet the dentist beforehand? What about the hygenists? I could have the best dentist in the world, but if his or her hygentist is not also compassionate, then what to do? They seem to spend the most time with patients on routine visits.
Assuming I find the best dentist ever, I also need help in learning how to prepare mentally. I have developed a score of phobias around the dentist. I have an extreme aversion to the grinding of teeth, which usually happens if they are moist and have toothpaste or some kind of cleaning agent on them. I dislike the vaccuum used to vaccuum out fluid and often wish that I were in control or could just spit and rinse it all out myself. I don't like being left alone in the chair. Finally, I also have an extremely powerful gag reflex that is easily triggered (probably why I hate that vaccuum thing).
So how do I cope with those things? Is there anything I can do to get over them or prevent them from happening? Is any dentist going to take those concerns seriously? If I had to rank them in terms of terror, I would put gagging as 1, grinding teeth as 2, vaccuum thing as 3 and being left alone as 4. I don't think I care as much about pain.
I recognize that I have a lot of issues, but would like to avoid therapy if at all possible. I did see this question (http://ask.metafilter.com/114191/How-can-I-find-a-dentist-who-is-good-with-terrified-patients) and it helped, but I have some specific issues I need to address and wanted to know about coping. Please help if you can.
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